Monday, December 15, 2014

Umm....not good!

  • They couldn't have played any worse! The Kelowna Rockets looked like a team playing their third game in three night's with a lackluster 4-1 loss Sunday afternoon to the Calgary Hitmen. Unfortunately the excuse of fatigue couldn't be used as a factor in the teams' 5th loss of the season. Right from the opening face-off until the 15 minute mark of the third period, the Hitmen were first on pucks and looked more interested in winning. The Rockets - as a group - were a step behind. The Hitmen weren't faster. The Hitmen didn't have a lopsided advantage with more key players in their line. The home team just had more energy and 'want' in their game. Only Dillon Dube's 5th goal of the season. on the power play, late in the third period was the reason why the Rockets weren't shutout for the first time this season.
  • A sure sign that it was a rough night was back-to-back icings in the second period. Traditionally, the Rockets use long cross ice passes that are tape-to-tape. It is an awfully impressive skill set to have when executed properly. When the passes are off though, like they were Sunday afternoon, it looked like a team that was struggling mentally.
  • As bad as the Rockets were over essentially 54 minutes of the game, the power play goal by Dube and the final five minutes of frantic action inside the Hitmen's zone almost saw the visitors make it a one goal contest. Tyson Ballie, with the goaltender pulled for the extra attacker, was set up wonderfully on a back door play and fired the puck into what appeared to be a wide open net. Hitmen goaltender Mack Shields, who had an extremely easy night, came up with a solid right pad save. Had Baillie scored on that chance, the Hitmen would have been in a heap of trouble as the Rockets finally awoke after cruising through a good portion of the game.         
  • No matter what you read on other blogs or on Twitter, this team won't win without optimum effort. I see this team every day. If they play as a team and 90 percent of the players are 'going', they can win games. Lots of games. No team, no matter what the roster may look like is invincible. What do losses do? Hopefully they reinforce the fact that a half hearted effort won't be good enough to earn a victory.  
  • The Rockets generated a season low 18 shots on net. On numerous occasions, scoring situations presented themselves yet the puck was passed rather than delivered towards the net. Remember this quote from Wayne Gretzky? "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." The Rockets need to take a Spokane Chief mindset when shooting. Fire it from almost anywhere and crash the net for rebounds. It isn't pretty, but again you don't get style points for scoring. Tyson Baillie was the only one firing the puck on net. The 19 year-old led the team with 6 shots on goal against the Hitmen. 
  • I think the Rockets are taking too many penalties. Assistant Coach Kris Mallette commented when I asked him the same question in back-to-back post game shows, which I did, wondering if his team was taking warranted penalties? I think many can be avoided. If it is a scoring chance for the opposition and a trip or hook is needed, fill your boots, take a penalty. The Rockets took 6 penalties last night with Nick Merkley receiving a 4 minute minor for high sticking. Did Merkley get the home town discount on that penalty, or should he been given a five minute major and a game misconduct?
  • The Hitmen are an excellent team. You have to remember they didn't have two of their best players in the line up with Jake Virtanen and Travis Sanheim at the training camp for Team Canada. Thankfully those two weren't with the Hitmen or it could have been ugly.    
  • The penalty killing unit killed off all four Hitmen power plays. That came on the heels of a 6 for 6 effort against the Medicine Hat Tigers Friday night. The PK is doing good work in the last two games. 
  • Enough negativity. It was the teams' 5th loss of the season. Let's put things into perspective here. The Rockets lost against a solid team. Again, they didn't look good, but some nights' you aren't going to have it. I would have just liked more 'try' in the game and if the results aren't there at the end of the night, or the opposing goaltender is lights out, I can accept that and believe the coaches will too.   
  • Those Hitmen uniforms. Wow. They are good to look at but from high in the Saddledome the name bars and the numbers on the side of the jersey's are almost impossible to detect. It is amazing how much those side digits on the arms are used for radio broadcasters to identify players. What likely made matters worse was the distance I was from the ice and the fact it was the first time I have seen the Hitmen this season. Maybe my eye sight is failing me too?
  • The Rockets are basing out of Red Deer over the next three nights with the Edmonton Oil Kings and Red Deer Rebels on the horizon. The Oil Kings present the next challenge on Tuesday. Wish me luck attempting to identifying their players as I fight altitude sickness from the broadcast booth at Rexall Place.

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